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PH06 Ecological Condition Indices and Report Cards
(PH69) Environmental Protection Indicators for California (EPIC): Ecosystem Health Indicators.
Washburn, B.1, Zimny, C.2, Ruffolo, J. 3, Joab, B. 1, Penberth, M.4, Low, A.5, Hoshovsky, Turner5, Takemoto, B.6, Fong, B8, Petreas , M.7, 1 Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, Sacramento, CA, USA2 Department of Forestry, Sacramento, CA, USA3 California Research Bureau, Sacramento, CA, USA4 Department of Conservation, Sacramento, CA, USA5 Department of Fish & Game, Sacramento, CA, USA6 Air Resources Board, Sacramento, CA, USA8 7 Department of Toxic Substances Control, Berkeley, CA, USA
ABSTRACT- The Environmental Protection Indicators for California (EPIC) Project is a coordinated undertaking by Cal/EPA and the Resources Agency to assess environmental conditions in the state, with the goal of using the indicators to develop and modify policy and programs. The EPIC Project developed an environmental indicator system based on the pressure-state-effect-response conceptual model as defined by the Organization for Environmental Cooperation and Development. The 2-year process of developing the first set of 84 indicators, 23 of which focused on ecosystem health, began with a conference of stakeholders to define environmental issues of concern and possible indicators. The ecosystem health sub-committee categorized the issues relating to ecosystem health as habitat quality and quantity, biodiversity, and key functions of the ecosystems of the state: freshwater and coastal, desert, forests, shrub lands and grasslands, urban, and agroecosystems. In addition to these categories, land use and threatened and endangered species were identified as overarching issues. The primary criteria for indicator selection were adequate data quality, representativeness, sensitivity, and ability to support environmental decisions. Trend data for indicator development was identified for the population of chinook salmon, clarity of Lake Tahoe, status of the desert tortoise, change in forest canopy cover, and conversion of farmland to other uses, to name a few. In many cases, the best indicators to represent an issue could not be developed due to the lack of reliable data. In other cases, reliable data existed only for a small geographical area so the value of the information gathered from the indicator was not representative enough to assess statewide conditions. More comprehensive and systematic monitoring of the state[prime]s ecosystems is needed to permit a full scientific assessment of ecosystem health and condition.
Key words: ecosystem, indicators, environmental
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